Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

A New Place to Explore: Viera Wetlands

I’ve heard birders mention Viera Wetlands so often that I had to get over there to see it for myself. It reminds me of Circle B Bar Reserve in that it is a local wetlands area with great birds — and unlike Circle B, which is so dry right now, this wetlands had plenty of water and there were plenty of birds as a result! I saw my first-ever Hooded Merganser and Common Snipe, which were both cool. The wetlands were covered in American Coots and Blue-Winged Teals. I also got some pictures of a flock of Green-Winged Teals and Killdeer in flight. Then there was the usual wetlands assortment of herons, egrets, and ducks. The clouds rolled in about mid-morning, but we had a great time, and I’m looking forward to going back.

We lucked out — one of the first birds we saw was the Hooded Merganser. I yelped and hopped out, then by the time we got our cameras, we didn’t see him. Dyeyo tried to tell me that I’d just seen coots…and then he popped out of some vegetation and did a little flap! So we got to see his hood. He was in Cell 4. We drove by a couple of times and saw him in better light, but my best picture was his flapping shot.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Viera Wetlands was covered in coots and moorhens. Like Dyeyo, I have tons of pictures of the Common Moorhens from Circle B this summer, but I can’t resist taking pictures of pretty birds in nice poses. I liked the juxtaposition here with the weeds in back and the bubbles in front.

Common Moorhens

Common Moorhens

We saw a Red-Shouldered Hawk land in a tree and eat his prey. Unfortunately he’d swallowed the prey before we got close. I took some pictures, then the light got better and I took some more. I like both poses though.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

A Double-Crested Cormorant sat in the same tree and sunned himself for our entire visit. We took pictures of him, hoping that he might be the Great Cormorant that has been reported at Viera on the birdbrainz listserv. Unfortunately for us, all we saw were these Double-Crested Cormorants. Maybe next time…

Double-Crested Cormorant

Double-Crested Cormorant

Several of the ponds were just covered in American Coots. They are hard birds to photograph, with their dark feathers that contrast so harshly with the bright water. I have fun trying to catch them as they run across the water.

American Coot

American Coot

Also abundant were the Blue-Winged Teals. I was surprised to learn that the “blue” winged teals have bright metallic green speculums, as shown by this guy here:

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal

The Blue-Winged Teals were the smallest of the ducks today at Viera Wetlands. This male posed so nicely in the sunlight that I just have to post his picture.

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal

Plenty of White and Glossy Ibises were searching for their breakfasts in the shallow water. I caught this Glossy Ibis in the moment that he nabbed a tasty morsel…

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

I was excited to see these female Ring-Necked Ducks. I may have a picture of a male from Circle B last winter, but this was the first time I’ve seen the female.

Ring-Necked Ducks

Ring-Necked Ducks

A Savannah Sparrow hopped in the bushes so close to us that I just had to stop to take his picture. I love the little sparrows and warblers in the marshes.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

An Osprey flew overhead. No, Dyeyo, he did not have a fish, but I took his picture anyway. I was really pleased with the head angle on this one.

Osprey

Osprey

I spied a small group of Mottled Ducks in amongst the teals.

Mottled Ducks

Mottled Ducks

The light was tricky this morning, with the sun coming in and out from behind clouds, and with us driving in circles around the marsh. It was hard to get good camera angles. This Little Blue Heron was in great light, though.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

A tern flew overhead and Dyeyo and I both practiced our flight photography. I think he’s a Caspian Tern, but my tern identification skills need practice!

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

As we left the wetlands, we saw an American Kestrel on an electric line right outside the water treatment facility. He didn’t let us get too close, but I got a decent picture. It’s been a few years since I last saw a kestrel at Oakland Nature Preserve.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel